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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, March 11, 2013

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles.

Crowns

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CROWNSFOUR WALLS: “Roll on Friday, roll on,” declare Crowns over their uproariously feel-good new single Four Walls, the latest to be taken from their really rather good album, Stitches In The Flag. An ode to revelry (“all we need is what we got, all we need is these four walls”), this combines sing-along choruses with robust banjo and guitar licks and a tremendous sense of energy that’s utterly infectious. As ever with Crowns, the style of their delivery is evocative of classic acts such as Green Day, The Pogues and The Levellers… all delivered with their own brand of energy and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to become smitten or to raise a jar in their honour.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Josh Savage, Mountains and Hurricanes

JOSH SAVAGEMOUNTAINS AND HURRICANES: Inspired by a friend who suffered a psychotic episode, Josh Savage’s new single Mountains and Hurricanes is a heartfelt, tender piece of troubadour pop that’s further enhanced by classical elements. It also serves notice of a talented and intriguing new singer-songwriter. The song opens in very stripped back fashion, with Savage’s striking central vocal set against an acoustic guitar and issuing lines like “if it’s too much, give me a call”. But it gradually unfolds to layer in a string section, which is subtle and in keeping with the respectful tone of the song. What’s more, the sentiments behind it are never over-cooked, emerging as quite empowering thanks to the chorus of “you can take on mountains and hurricanes”. Trust us, this is an artist well worth checking out…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hurts, Miracle

HURTSMIRACLE: Hurts return with an epic new single in the form of the Coldplay-esque Miracle… in fact, the Coldplay elements have never been so blatant as during the chorus, which almost ‘borrow’s a riff or two from Paradise. That said, this is still a cracking effort… a soul-searching slice of epic power pop that combines the band’s trademark moodiness with something a little more euphoric and radio-friendly once that big chorus lands. Theo Hutchcraft and company clearly have their hearts set on breaking the mainstream in a big way and it won’t take a miracle to realise that ambition if they continue to deliver songs like this.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hadouken!

HADOUKEN! – LEVITATE: On the evidence of this new single, the Hadouken! revival is on… and going global. Euphoric new single Levitate combines head-rush synths with pounding beats and an upbeat chorus that successfully combines the dance scene with the pop world. It’s going to be a real floor-filler throughout the coming summer months of big clubbing, while probably providing the backdrop to a fair few TV musical montages over the coming months. The band’s viral video for the track has graced over 35million eyeballs on YouTube (and counting). From basketball and FMX stunts to skateboarding and flying experiments, the addictive montage features an incredible selection of the most extreme video clips of ludicrous human feats edited by the band from their bedroom. As a direct result Hadouken!’s new single has rocketed into the top five of the US i-Tunes chart after selling a huge amount of copies of the track online in the last two weeks. The band does not currently have an American record label and have only visited the country twice, five years ago. But as if to underline the power of the web, the track has also reached the top 40 of over 13 European i-Tunes dance charts this week with over 60,000 MP3’s sold, making top 10’s in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Olly Murs, Army of Two

OLLY MURSARMY OF TWO: “I came, I saw, tore down, these walls”… so sings Olly Murs at the start of his more robust new single Army of Two, which is notable for offering a harder pop sound than some of his breezier efforts. Whether that’s a good thing, though, is debatable. If anything, the packaging here makes him sound more like a Robbie Williams wannabe, which in itself is no bad thing for chart success… but hardly something Murs needs. The throbbing piano hook is insistent enough to get in your head, while Murs’ vocals feel edgier when delivering lines like “I love all of you, if you love me too”. But he can’t resist throwing in a falsetto over the chorus and the use of strings is probably unnecessary, softening what could have been an even more dramatic departure had he really had the guts to go for it. Interesting… if not entirely successful (maybe he’s trying too hard).
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Paloma Faith

PALOMA FAITHBLACK & BLUE: Having enjoyed widespread success for her INXS cover Never Tear Us Apart, Paloma Faith now releases another original song in the form of Black & Blue from her Fall To Grace LP. It’s a typically assured offering that is thoughtful, reflective and socially aware (“I know people who take midnight drives for headspace” and “we’re just the same, we all get desperate sometimes, feeling black and blue”). And it’s nicely composed, with some striking piano chords mixing with more orchestral elements and a gutsy central vocal that harks back to a classic style, complete with gospel-tinged backing. You’ll be quickly smitten.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Billy Bragg

BILLY BRAGG – NO ONE KNOWS NOTHING ANYMORE: Musician and political-activist Billy Bragg releases his new single No One Knows Nothing Anymore as a taster of his first new studio album in five years, Tooth & Nail, released on March 18 through Cooking Vinyl records. The track is a sobering, downbeat lament about the state of the world and its intelligence (or perceived lack thereof). Against the backdrop of a country-tinged pop instrumental, the song offers lines or questions such as “what happens when the markets drop if the numbers really don’t add up?”, while suggesting “what if there’s nothing, no pot of gold to find… only the blind leading the blind”. It won’t leave you feeing particularly cheerful afterwards but it does have something to say (“let’s stop defending the indefensible”) and is delivered in thoughtful, even subtle fashion by Bragg, thereby making the prospect of a complete album an intriguing one to find out what more he has to say.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Nicole Scherzinger, Boomerang

NICOLE SCHERZINGERBOOMERANG: Nicole Scherzinger offers a statement of intent in the defiant Boomerang, a song inspired by her ability to turn things around and find positivity out of despair. Hence, we have nods to past heartbreak and self-doubt that are quickly replaced by a will to prove the doubters wrong (“oh you can turn me down… the harder I come back around”). It’s cheesy as hell and based around a synth-pop vibe you’d more commonly associate with the likes of Pink and Katy Perry… but it’s also vaguely catchy and lively enough to bring Scherzinger a sizeable chart success. Who cares if it’s generic, right?
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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AlunaGeorge

ALUNAGEORGEATTRACTING FLIES: “Everything you always say is attracting flies”… that’s the sentiment behind AlunaGeorge’s latest offering, Attracting Flies. It’s a pretty underwhelming offering, if we’re honest, in that it features an anaemic synth, some low-key beats and a whispered, breathy vocal that doesn’t really generate any real heat. Given the angry sentiments behind it, too, you kind of feel there should be a bit more oomph to proceedings. But as things stand, this is a slight offering that simply passes you by.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Sam Lee

SAM LEEGOODBYE MY DARLING: Good Bye My Darling is the latest single to be taken from Sam Lee’s debut album Ground Of Its Own and is another heart-on-sleeve folk arrangement that is meticulously delivered. Coming to life from a sparse opening, this weaves in fiddles, banjo licks and other instrumental arrangements as Lee reflects on the end of a meaningful relationship. The singer’s vocal style can sometimes be a little wonky but that only adds to his idiosyncratic charm… and while the start is undeniably slow and requires a little patience, once the song comes to life it’s really worth hearing.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Soft Bullets

SOFT BULLETSPOSTERITY: Posterity is the captivating new single from transatlantic duo Soft Bullets. Produced by David Kosten (Everything Everything, Bat For Lashes), it’s a rhythmic slice of synth driven indie-electronica that has a futuristic edge. Featuring lyrics like “two young lovers lost in this frozen universe” and “it’s true when we met we were wrapped up in life”, this has a quiet sense of despair about it married to something a little more optimistic. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition that is given added ethereal elements by the subtle vocals which also lament “it just makes my heart break”. If we’re being really generous, there’s a touch of the Coldplay about the delivery here… which suggests Soft Bullets could well be poised for big things. This is certainly a good starting point.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Limozine

LIMOZINEJOHNNY GOT SHOT BY A UFO: As Limozine efforts go, new single Johnny Got Shot By A UFO is one of their better offerings. A raw, rough but vaguely catchy slice of punk-rock, this has a chant-along quality in its repetitive chorus of “Johnny got shot by a UFO”, as well as a foot-tapping quality thanks to its lively guitars and snappy beats. It’s also clearly having fun and has an infectious quality about it. The song is taken from their forthcoming album, You’ve Been Limozined, which is due for release on May 13.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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